Category Archives: Tent Life

Maho Bay Tents: The Rewards of Extra Effort

Or “I Survived the Steps at Maho Bay Camp” in order to stay in the Best Tent!

Like so many others visitors I stayed in an A-Section tent on my first visit to Maho Bay Camp. Tent A-16 I believe it was. It had a porch overlooking the water at Little Maho beach and the weather was perfect the entire time. The location was perfect as far as the main boardwalk because it was mostly a flat walk under a shady canopy of trees. That flat boardwalk was decidedly nice when toting luggage on arrival and departure days, as well as after a hike up and down stairs around the rest of Maho or from Maho’s beach.

View of Francis Bay and Little Maho Bay from the A-Section of the now closed Maho Bay Camp on St. John, USVI.  I believe this was from A-Vip.
View of Francis Bay and Little Maho Bay from the A-Section of the now closed Maho Bay Camp on St. John, USVI. I believe this was from A-Vip.

We always booked our tent a year in advance in order to get the best chance at having our first choice, but somehow we never stayed in the A-section again.  Which turned out to be wonderful! Over the years I stayed in the D-section with it’s large volcanic boulders, the E-section with its newer style bathhouse and shady afternoons, the C-section with its lush green foliage, and even the B-section. But I never grew fond of the B-section because I stayed in the tent behind registration and next to the bathhouse.

One thing I discovered was that every section has tents with fantastic views! For instance, if you were in tent E15 you had a fantastic view of Big Maho Bay and an extra large porch (due to the fact you entered through the porch to get in the tent.)  The C-section tents had some nice ceiling fans and solid wood floors which helped when things were buggy. And last year my E-section tent had deer running around all day in September and October.

A quiet and shady E-section tent (taken during the final season of Maho Bay Camp, which is the reason for the poor condition of the wooden boardwalks.)
A quiet and shady E-section tent (taken during the final season of Maho Bay Camp, which is the reason for the poor condition of the wooden boardwalks.)

But better than all of those sections, my favorite was the F-section tents! When we first arrived and found out we were staying up there for the first time,we were a bit reluctant. It was more of a climb to the F tents and they felt removed from the rest of the property. But when we arrived at F4 to see the view, it took our breath away! It was like having a room at the Maho Bay or Trunk Bay overlooks, only better. We were higher and could see further. And we could plan our day by standing on our porch in the morning. If there were rain clouds anywhere, we were going to see them!  F-section tents were distinctly hotter during the day than most others since they were so high on the side of the hill and had minimal shade, but they had a breeze and the F-section had a relatively private bathhouse. Making the hike up to the F-section was more than worth it when you were rewarded with the view overlooking the north shore of St. John.

View of Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay from the F-Section high up on the hill.
View of Maho Bay and Cinnamon Bay from the F-Section high up on the hill.

Island Lullaby

St. John Night Music:

One experience I always loved when I returned to stay at Maho Bay Camps was listening to songs of the frogs and birds while falling asleep in my tent at night. It is a phenomenal chorus that starts at sunset and continues throughout the night.  I’ve discovered that there are a variety of frogs (so far I’ve found four) that are singing on St. John: 

  • the local tree frog,
  • the Antillean frog,
  • the Coqui and Whistling Eleuth from Puerto Rico.

It is intriguing that I will go all day without seeing a frog anywhere, but as soon as the last rays of sunlight dissolve, I hear thousands of tree frogs in the bush, both near and far, begin their nightly songs. I especially love driving along North Shore Road through the National Park after dark with all the car windows open, listening to all the thousands of frogs in the forest and seeing the bats swoop down and back up in front of my car.   

From what I can gather the local tree frog only sings when it is wet or has just rained. But others clearly sing every night regardless of the weather.  One sound I used to hear at Maho Bay Camp came only after the rain; either a frog or a bird made a pleasant and irregular (thankfully!) sound of water dripping.  I recall hearing it when the rain woke me up at night when I first arrived and was not used to living in a tent and hearing all the sounds around me.  I would listen to the rain, usually hearing it end shortly after it started.  Once the rain stopped I heard that “drip” sound. Wondering if there was a slow leak in the tent roof I would get up to inspect.  My inspection said no. And it quickly became clear the sound was outside and up in a tree!  I always loved that drip sound; it was uncommon and it served the same purpose of counting sheep – listening to it would help me fall right back  to sleep.

Singing in the Rain

After a rainfall the frog chorus can be phenomenally LOUD if you are surrounded by trees and bush!  Now that I am living in a house in Coral Bay (vs. a tent at Maho) I have the opportunity to watch TV again. One night while watching a movie, there was a brief shower and once it had passed the frogs picked up their singing in force. I kept turning up the volume so I could hear the movie, until it occurred to me that it might be disturbing my neighbors, even though I could barely understand what was being said on TV!  At that point it is best to just give up and turn off the TV.  Island life….

Island Commute

I had the best commute at Maho Bay Camps! I could jump out of the shower and get dressed and then be to the office in about 3 minutes – assuming I did not stop and talk to anyone along the way. This video gives you an idea of what it was like. It was dry in April and I bypassed the Dining Pavilion, but kind of wish I hadn’t now….

That’s it for info on this post – I’m rushing out to see the Soldier Crab migration at Nanny Point before it ends at 12:00!!